Berwick responds to report that cited workplace violations after fire that killed Capt. Joel Barnes

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BERWICK, Maine (WMTW) The town of Berwick responded Friday to a Maine Department of Labor report that cited the Berwick Fire Department with five violations in the immediate aftermath of Capt. Joel Barnes' death in March.

A report filed in May found the state cited the town and department with violations regarding equipment, communication and safety.

Barnes, 32, died battling the March 1 fire after becoming trapped on the third floor of the apartment building.

Barnes is credited with sacrificing himself to save another firefighter by shielding him from the flames.

On March 5, Inspectors visited the site of the Bell Street fire. The fire department and town addressed all of the citations and paid a $350 fine.

Berwick Town Manager Steve Eldridge issued a statement Friday saying that the town and the fire department took the report from the Maine Department of Labor very seriously.

Eldridge said the issues identified in the report were corrected. He also said the town has reached out to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct a third-party investigation into the fire.

"March 1 was a tragic day for the family of Capt. Barnes and the entire community of Berwick and all public safety personnel across the state of Maine and country. The town of Berwick recognizes the role and commitment of its public safety personnel, and that they put their lives at risk each and every day for us. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep our first responders safe," Eldridge said.

Eldridge said Barnes is a hero for his response to the fire.

"He arrived at the scene of a house that was engulfed in flames. Believing that residents were inside, Capt. Barnes entered the building. He died saving the life of a fellow firefighter that day," Eldridge said.

Eldridge said the findings in the Department of Labor report were not contributing factors in Barnes' death.

Eldridge said the Fire Department has received the Safety and Health Award for Public Employers in recognition of their safety achievement program over several years.

Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said in April that the fire started from unattended smoking materials on a porch.

The Department of Labor's Workplace Safety & Health Division investigates Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules for the public sector.